Shakespeare Ballet an Opportunity for All

The combination of Mendelssohn’s music, Shakespeare’s writing, dozens of adorable children, a group of mid-level teen-age ballerinas, several classy professional dancers, Sandra Meythaler’s choreography and a full, enthusiastic house at the Jefferson Center made for some lively entertainment Saturday night.

The occasion was the Roanoke Ballet Theatre’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,”one of Shakespeare’s funniest, most anarchic and entertaining works. It was obvious that many in the audience had no idea what they were watching, but that didn’t seem to matter. The enthusiasm overwhelmed nearly everything else, applause ringing out throughout the production and becoming almost wild when the small children took the stage.

Community ballet is not to be confused with professional efforts, though there are moments when the pros take over briefly for a look at the real thing. This is more an opportunity for families to see their budding ballerinas on stage, shuffling, spinning, leaping and using what they’ve learned to the best of their ability before a live crowd. You have to leave the critic at home and enjoy what’s going on both in the audience and on the stage–including gurgling toddlers enjoying the moment with the rest of us. A number of the better dancers were returning students, showing what they’d learned in the intervening years.

Frankly, I enjoyed the production because of the community, non-professional nature of the performance, though the several professionals entertained on a different level that was full in its own right.

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